"Childhood fame is always some mix of the child’s dream and the parents," writes Joanna Weiss in The Boston Globe. And sometimes, as in the case of 16-year-old Abby Sunderland — whose father endorsed her risky plan to become the youngest person to sail solo around the globe — or Jessica Dubrof, "the 7-year-old who died in 1996, trying to pilot a plane across the country," the mix is seriously imbalanced. Abby survived her ordeal at sea, and is being hailed as an inspirational role-model, but her father, who's revealed that he's shopping a Reality TV series about his family, should realize that his daughter is not a hero, she's just "very, very lucky." Here's an excerpt:
"So this is the definition of bravery now? Embarking on unnecessary risk that jeopardizes the lives of rescue workers? When I thought of a 16-year-old bobbing alone in the Indian Ocean, surrounded by 25-foot waves, I didn’t feel inspired. I felt sad. And when I thought about her parents, I felt furious.
"Abby’s fans would call me a naysayer, I gather from their posts, and tell me I lack a spirit of adventure. And I’ll admit that parenthood requires one to overcome a certain intolerance for risk….But parenthood also requires you to invoke maturity where your child lacks it, whether it’s telling her that she’s too small to slide down the fireman’s pole or that her sailing journey will have to wait until she’s old enough to come to her senses. It involves helping her figure out the difference between a dream and a fantasy."